Category: Musings

A Return to Downton Abbey

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Like the millions of people who tuned in year after year to catch up with the Crawley’s, I find myself missing the great house this time of year.

Odd, since in the US the series ran starting in January – long after the U.K. had visited and moved on for the season.

Somehow, though, Christmas is the time I get a bit wistful to see Branson, Lady Mary, and all the other occupants of the house and grounds, not to mention the neighboring village.

There is something serene about the place.  Comfortable even in those rooms full of gilt, silk and deep carpets.

If you are a viewer of YouTube, you can see some of the DVD extras that talk about back stories and settings and characters.  For me, who does not own the DVDs, it is an interesting addition to the fond memories I have of the series.

To be honest, it makes me want to brew a cuppa and settle down in front of the telly with Amazon Video to dive in.  The entire series is there, waiting.

I am hearing bits about the new movie that is coming next year.  To be honest, I’ve not paid any attention if only to preserve some of my sanity.  There is something about the anticipation that keeps things on an even keel.

Join me, won’t you?  Settle back and dive in to watch all or part of the series.  Remember the joys and the sorrows and the amazing holidays at Downton Abbey

Categories: Music Musings TV

Taking a Breather

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I realize that most of the world is caught up in Holiday Madness right now.  Perhaps that is why I suggest that we all take a breather.

You know, prepare a simple meal, dim the lights a bit, turn on some nice music and put your feet up.  The rush to Do Something On The List can wait until tomorrow.

I was channel hopping tonight and happened to catch a good portion of a film I have heard of for years, but never saw.  Bullitt.  Yeah, that one – with Steve McQueen. 

I was, to be polite, blown away.  Great cinematography.  Fantastic characters.  A cast list that is eye popping.  And that car…that Mustang…and that chase scene…  Worth any amount you’d care to name.

Truth is, unless I owned a copy, or could find one to rent or stream, I would have missed it if I was keeping up with The List Of Things To Be Done.

In case you were wondering, I saw this wonderful classic film on Movies TV Network.  Check the site to find out where you can watch in your area.

My point is, take time for yourself right now, so you can enjoy all the festivities later.  And, if something doesn’t get done, remind yourself that it is very unlikely that it will end the world.  (You have to prioritize that list, you know.)

One step at a time.  🙂

Categories: Movies Musings TV

Returning to Cherry Tree Lane

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She’s Back

Put a note on your calendar.  December 19th is the release date of the brand new film Mary Poppins Returns.

The very first movie I remember seeing was Mary Poppins way back in 1964.  I was six.  My mother and I walked from our home to the local movie house and spent a magical couple of hours watching penguins, chalk pictures, tea parties on the ceiling and this nanny…this nanny who turned everything upside down only to turn it right side up again.

It was my first experience not only with Disney magic, but with movie magic.  It set the stage for a lifetime love of film, music, musicals, dance and tons of other connected arts.

For those who don’t know, Mary Poppins was the creation of author P. L. Travers who went on to create eight volumes of Poppins stories from 1934 until 1988.  Wikipedia has an interesting collection of information here.

Walt Disney obtained the film rights for Mary Poppins and set about creating the movie version that won several Oscars and huge box office returns.

By the way, if you want to see a rather interesting film that tells the story of the acquisition of the rights to the book and the backstory of Ms. Travers, see Saving Mr. Banks.  It will give you an insight and impression on two very formidable personalities.

There were stage versions of the story, along with rumored adaptations of other books and a remake.

The amazing Emily Blunt will be playing Poppins.  I won’t go into the rest of the stellar cast.  If you are inclined, check out imdb.com here:  Mary Poppins Returns.  The cast list is one to make your mouth water.

If you are inclined, take a step on the wild side and pick up the books.  You will find a slightly (?) different version of Poppins.  Travers’ creation is a bit more … Poppins than we were introduced to in the movie.  None the less, well worth the read.

I heard a comment the other day that made me stop in my tracks.  The com-mentor said that they had no idea they needed Mary Poppins until they found she was returning.  

In this day and age, with all the stress and angst, perhaps it is the perfect time for the nanny to return to take care of the children by taking care of the adults.

(This will make a lot more sense to you if you’ve done your home work.)

In the meantime, I’m digging out my DVD version, looking for the soundtrack and contemplating parrot umbrellas and dancing penguins.

She’s on her way…

Categories: Disney Movies Music Musings

Holiday Programming

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When I was growing up, the holidays included lots of specials on TV that were not just cartoons for the kids, but musical and variety programs and special holiday episodes of series programs.

Over the years, this has fallen away until there is not much out there for folks to enjoy.

Before television, radio celebrated the holidays with all sorts of amazing and wonderful shows.  Musicals, variety shows, kids shows and more.

For the past few years I have enjoyed the special programming put on by one of the Old Time Radio stations I listen to. 

Radio Once More (radiooncemore.com) will begin its Christmas Classics lineup at midnight (eastern time) Thanksgiving night and continuing through December.  Check their website for listings and schedule and to find out how to listen online.

I listen to the station via TuneIn – a free app for my phone, computer or laptop not to mention Smart TV. 


What are you in store for?  How about the Jack Benny Show, Fibber McGee and Molly, Lux Radio Theater and more.  Listen to A Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street.  Hundreds of shows that share the spirit of the holidays with a smile, a tear and warm thought.

I sincerely hope you take this opportunity to add a little something extra to your holidays this year – and if you like what you’ve heard, please drop Neal and the gang an email or a post on their Facebook page.  The information is on the site.

Categories: Musings Old Time Radio

November Not Quite Rush

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I had intended to write a piece about preparing the Thanksgiving meal, but life got in the way.

Anna Olson has some great recipes and ideas as does Entertaining With Beth and the Domestic Geek.  Check them out on YouTube and see what inspiration grabs you.  Don’t forget Sara’s Weeknight Meals – she has some great How To’s as well as guidance on avoiding mistakes.

Over on Magic Journeys, Mig Vee and Janell have been exploring new menu items and interesting holiday decor.  To be honest, I’m enjoying watching Disneyland’s Christmas decor appearing.  They always do the holidays right.

Miss Annie and I woke up to temps around 18 degrees today.  Winter seems to have arrived.

On the one hand we are enjoying being together and cuddling (sweet smelling kitty fur!) and on the other we are happy to not be out and about with the rampaging hoards of folks who are running about in a panic getting ready for The Holidays.

Did I mention I hate crowds?

I’m enjoying the few holiday catalogs I’ve received in the mail.  Contemplating what, if anything, I might send to those few folks I gift to.

During November and December, I find excuses not to get out and hit the mall or the big box stores and if I can pick up my groceries without going into the store, more the better.

The Holidays are what you make them.  Keep that in mind as you stress making your lists and setting up your calendar.

Here’s to a great cup of cocoa and a nice cookie or two.

Categories: Musings

Rethinking the Holidays

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In the last week or so I’ve had some interesting conversations with friends about the upcoming holidays.

Over all, most of us are pretty stressed, tired, budget crunched and not exactly looking forward to the potential mine field that often accompanies holiday gatherings.

What to do?

Many people approach the holidays with the mind set that they need to continue traditions that they either started “way back when” or grew up with.

This becomes more and more complicated when you blend families.

Some folks are not in a financial state to spend the money they used to – or simply do not want to – but don’t know quite what to do to make the holidays special.

Why not switch it up a bit?

Have you heard the story about the mother and daughter reminiscing about Grandma’s wonderful roast ham and how it was always made in that Special Pan?  They spent a lot of time discussing the preparation and the wonderful presentation but when it came to actually doing the recipe themselves, they felt it impossible.  Why?  Because they didn’t have the Special Pan.

When they explained this to Grandma (who was hoping to not have to make the wonderful roast ham that year), her reaction surprised and shocked them.

Turned out that the only reason the Special Pan was used was because it was the only one Grandma had Way Back When and she just continued to use it as the years rolled by.

Traditions are what happens when you continue to do something.  That doesn’t mean that the something needs to be repeated, it can be replaced.

Why not try a pot luck instead of making the entire dinner yourself?  Share the fun in the kitchen with others in the party who might actually want to participate.  Entertaining With Beth has a great Friendsgiving menu that is easy to put together and no one has to be a Chef to make one (or all) of the dishes.

Not really into a turkey or roast ham?  Why not change the menu to something that you would prefer?  I knew of a family who created an Italian feast for Christmas Eve. 

Why not really make it special and check out a local restaurant to see if they will be open for the holidays or if they will prepare a feast that you can take home?

When you compare the cost of cooking yourself to eating out, you might be surprised to find it isn’t what you expect.

Gift giving can also be an issue.  Lots and lots of stress surrounding budget and wish lists and crowds and traffic.

It may fly in the face of Tradition, but why not shop at home?  A good cup of coffee, slippers, some nice music in the background and a lot of online catalogs could provide you with what you are looking for without spending a lot.  (And if you use Ebates &/or Honey you could save even more!)

At the end of the day, how you celebrate the holidays is up to you.  There is nothing that says you can’t make them the kind of experience you want.  If you have family, bring them into the conversation and see what they would like to do.  You might be surprised to learn that maybe they want a break from the hustle and bustle too.

Food for thought.  🙂

Categories: Musings

Simple Luxuries

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As you no doubt can imagine, I love a good cup of coffee.  I’m a bit particular about it, in fact.  I also enjoy a good cup of hot tea.

Sometimes, however, I want something to go with the beverage.  Something a bit … extravagant.

I love a good scone.  Cookies are nice, cupcakes and doughnuts are fine – sometimes even preferred.  But there are times when I want a good scone.

A few years back I came across a scone mix that was so simple, so easy – and so flavorful – that I thought it couldn’t possibly be good.  I was wrong.

Sticky Fingers Bakeries produces a scone mix in a variety of flavors that ticks so many boxes I don’t mind the $ I pay for them.  You literally add water, shape as you desire and bake.  That is it.

If you can make drop biscuits or drop cookies, this mix is for you.

I just got my order from Amazon and I am debating which to try first: pumpkin cranberry, raspberry white chocolate or peppermint chocolate chip.  They are all new to me.  I love their blueberry, but there is a list of flavors that are sure to appeal to just about anyone.

No, they are not cheap and they are hard to get.  Because they use only the best ingredients, some flavors are not available year round (grab the pumpkin quick) and because they are limited the price point can be a bit high.

But a good scone with a good cup of coffee or tea?

Heaven!

Categories: Cooking Food Musings

Message to My Readers

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You may have heard that Google+ will be closing by August 2019. While we understand that many users in this environment prefer not to join or engage at other social-media platforms, we would still like to make you aware of the other ways you can stay in touch with The Orange Plaid Cat.

Our Facebook page is currently active and you can always sign up for our newsletter or bookmark the site.  You can also set up an RSS feed with our page address.

I will be honest with you, there have been several conversations and a lot of contemplation on continuing with Facebook.

I have issue with being a commodity for use by someone else for their use and not mine. 

That being said, there may well come a time when I leave Facebook.  Should that time arrive, I will give as much advance notice as possible.

In the meantime, however, please do not hesitate to bookmark the site (both the blog and the Facebook page)&/or add the site to your RSS feed so you get notification of updates.

I would also encourage you to share our site with your friends.  Annie & I like to think we offer a different, quieter, place to visit and hopefully offer a touch of humor, along with the usual odds and ends.

Believe me, we appreciate your visits and your input.

Categories: Musings

And Now For a Brief Time Out

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I recently signed up for a free trial of BritBox.  BritBox, like Acorn, is a streaming service that you can subscribe to either on its own or thru Amazon.com.  Both carry predominantly British television programming; Acorn also includes Canadian and Australian programs.

Why did I do this?  Frankly, I needed some diversity in what I watch and American TV just wasn’t cutting it. 

The irony of this is that some of the shows both services carry can be found on American TV, usually PBS.  The infamous BritComs that many fans have supported over the years, plus the wonderful costume dramas, are purchased to fill voids left by American production companies that failed to provide content that appeals to discerning viewers.

For those who aren’t sure what I mean, PBS usually purchases productions from the UK because their viewers actually want to watch something that the other American networks are absolutely certain no one wants to watch.  Like Downton Abbey or Poldark or Dr. Who.

Although, come to think of it, my first encounter with Dr. Who was a syndicated series on an independent channel.  Makes you think.

Why do we gravitate toward such programming?  Some of us love to see other parts of the world.  Some are curious about how other people live.  Some just want to see something that doesn’t treat them like lumps on a sofa.

That is not to say that all non-American programming is high brow.  Far from it.  Sit through a season of Are You Being Served? and let me know how high brow that is.  Once you stop laughing.

One of my recent discoveries is the Hairy Bikers.  Two guys who ride motorcycles and love to cook.  At first glance you might raise an eyebrow.  At second glance you might hope for an invitation to their table.

For the armchair traveler, Penelope Keith has several wonderful series touring Britain.  Julie Walters has provided wonderful company as she tours England by train.  Martin Clunes has provided several series about animals and life in other countries.  And these are but a few.

As you contemplate what is available to you from your provider, I suggest you take a good look at what is available via streaming.  As long as you have Internet access, you can stream.  The purchase of a streaming device (Roku, Amazon Fire, etc.) makes the process simpler and easier.  The cost is nominal and the potential is enormous.

Categories: Musings TV

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